One of the most often misunderstood conditions, and a frequently asked health question is “what is a herniated disc?” It’s a common condition which commonly occurs in the lower part of the spine and is often referred to as a ‘slipped disc’.
Between each vertebra in the spine lies a spinal disc. These spinal discs have three main functions. They
Each spinal disc has a semi-liquid or jelly- like centre surrounded by cartilage. This cartilage is arranged in rings, similar to the inside of a tree when you cut it in half.
When a disc is herniated, the “jelly” in the centre breaks through the cartilage rings and forms a “bulge” or “herniation” on the outside of the disc. This herniation can cause major health issues by putting pressure on the adjacent spinal nerves, causing pain and possible dysfunction of the organs that the nerves control.
Disc herniation is usually caused by an injury of some sort such as a car accident, overuse as a result of repetitive movement over time, or even just by lifting incorrectly.
There are several risk factors that can increase the likelihood of someone having a herniated spinal disc. These include smoking, lack of exercise, sitting for long periods, and being overweight. Spinal discs can also lose some of their water as a person ages, which makes the discs less supple and more prone to cracking.
Symptoms related to a herniated disc vary. Some people can experience slight localised pain, while others experience severe shooting pain into the arms or legs. Organ dysfunction can
also occur in some individuals, as a result of pressure on the nerves that control the organ.
Appropriate treatment of a disc herniation will only be recommended after an examination. Your chiropractor is trained and qualified to provide professional health advice on suitable treatment options.
Although damage to the disc may heal, often the disc does not return to its full original strength. As a result, many people experience recurring back injuries even while lifting a light object or simply bending over. It can often end in a more serious
herniation as a result.
Many things can be done to avoid disc herniation or prevent a recurrence of an existing herniation. Core strength and flexibility are at the top of this list. Yoga, strengthening exercises, swimming, and walking all help maintain good core strength and flexibility. It’s also very important to maintain correct posture when carrying out daily tasks.
An active lifestyle and a healthy diet can directly impact the health of your spine and decrease the chance of a disc herniation occurring. Seek advice from your chiropractor about concerns or symptoms you have that might be related.
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We know that those who exercise and follow sensible healthy lifestyles live longer, healthier lives. More specifically, aerobic exercise is great for improving overall body function, stamina and fitness, but many people are unsure what it involves and how much to do.
What is aerobic exercise?
Sustained, low to moderate intensity exercise such as brisk walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, dancing, or any other activity comprising continuous energetic movement is known as ‘aerobic’ exercise. This means that it triggers the body’s oxygen use in the muscles to generate energy and burn calories.
How much should I exercise?
It depends on your starting point; if you currently do little exercise, start off gradually and progress towards an optimal exercise regime. Going straight from sedentary to serious sustained exercise can increase your risk of injury, or just prove so difficult and unenjoyable that you give up. It’s hard to say how much to exercise exactly; some health authorities recommend around three hours per week, spread out over several days. It’s okay to adapt the length and intensity of the exercise to suit your ability.
Any increase in your fitness level is a good thing; so be guided by your body, and gradually build-up the amount of aerobic exercise you do until you’re comfortable with your fitness and schedule.
Is it good for me?
Regular aerobic exercise is a great way to stay in shape and excellent for improving cardiovascular function—the health of
the heart and blood vessels. If you’re looking to build significant muscle mass however, aerobic exercise will need to be supplemented with high intensity exercise like weight training.
Aerobic exercise is achievable for many people as it can be adapted to suit most levels of ability and mobility; plus it can be a social activity. Many people find it easier and more enjoyable to exercise with a friend or in a group, and physical activity and socialising are both linked to good mental health.
If you have a specific health condition that might be affected by a sudden change in activity, remember to consult your health professional before you start.
Golf is a very popular sport for people of all ages, but it’s also one that can cause many players back pain if a few precautions aren’t taken. There are some key areas that can help prevent injury.
A proper warmup before starting your round of golf can dramatically decrease the chance of back injury. Start by walking for ten minutes to warm the muscles and joints of the body. Then perform a light stretching routine specifically targeting the hamstrings, lower back and shoulders. After stretching, a few minutes of light swinging with a club (not full golf swings), will prepare the joints and muscles for twisting. And finally, some practice shots on the driving range. Start with some easy pitch shots, then small irons before progressing to larger woods. Muscles that have been stretched gradually are much less prone to injury.
Golf is a unilateral sport; most players swing either right or left handed. This can cause an imbalance in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that protect the spine. These imbalances can lead to muscle tightness, muscle spasm, and even chronic pain. A simple tip to help avoid these imbalances is to take several swings with your opposite hand during your warm up and at least every other hole during the round.
Good balance, even weight distribution, and developing a correct technique for the swing can reduce stress to your lower back. When you first start to play golf it’s advisable to take lessons or advice from a sport professional to help you achieve the correct posture.
Strength training is sometimes overlooked by many golfers, or not considered very important, but it should be performed by all golfers. Be sure to focus on core strengthening exercises. Planks, cat-cow yoga poses, push-ups, and body weight squats are all simple, effective ways to start a core strengthening routine with no weights or gym membership needed. Of course a good weightlifting and/or yoga routine can help take your core fitness (and golf swing) to a new level.
If your technique has you missing rounds of golf due to nagging back pain, consult your chiropractor. Take care of your body and your golf handicap might just benefit as well!
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If you’re looking for an activity that has an array of health benefits, consider taking up swimming. It’s a low-cost, low-impact, and relaxing activity that provides a full body workout.
The main advantage that swimming has over other physical activities is that the buoyancy of the water takes some of the stress off your body. Therefore it’s a great low-impact exercise if you have an injury or condition that doesn’t allow you to participate in more traditional types of exercise. Swimming also allows you to exercise for longer periods of time without additional pressure on joints and muscles.
Swimming provides a great cardiovascular workout as well as a workout for nearly all of your muscles. It helps tone your muscles and builds strength and endurance. It can also improve balance, flexibility, co- ordination, and posture; all of which can help prevent an array of health problems.
While the physical benefits of swimming may be obvious, there are also hidden benefits such as being good for your mental health. Swimming helps to improve your mood and reduces mental tension and anxiety.
Before you dive into the swimming pool, remember to follow safe swimming behaviour. Make sure the environment you choose to swim in is safe, read the safety signs, speak to lifeguards for safety tips, swim with a partner, and swim within your capabilities.
If swimming laps doesn't appeal there are plenty of exercises you can do in the water without swimming. Pool-based classes such as aqua aerobics are a fun activity for all ages, especially if you prefer exercising in a group.
Swimming offers many physical and mental health benefits, and is an activity you can participate in your entire life, not to mention being a great way to cool down on a hot summer day!
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A healthy way to indulge this festive season
We are lucky enough to live in Australia, where we are inundated with amazing summer fruits to enjoy this festive season.
With a fruit platter looking this amazing its easy to find a healthy balance with all the indulgent temptations we are surrounded with at this time of year. The best part of a fruit platter is that you can choose as many or as few fruits as you want to enjoy or maybe it's an excellent excuse to try some new ones this year.
Remember that the more colours the better in terms of vital vitamins and minerals.
Join us in giving back to the community by once again supporting Anglicare Victoria in their annual Christmas Toy and Food Appeal.
The generosity of your donations will help to bring some festive cheer to local families in need and brighten and touch the hearts of so many!
You are invited to place new toys and non-perishable food items under our clinic Christmas tree.
All gifts are to be brand new and unwrapped. Food items are to be non-perishable. Please don’t forget to consider gifts or gift vouchers for teenagers.
Headaches are one of the most common health problems that heath professionals treat, but did you know the diagnosis can differ from one person to the next?
Headaches can be painful, irritating, and debilitating. Sometimes, you can make it through the day without a problem, but other times you have to crawl into bed and block out the world.
There are many different kinds and causes of headaches, two of the most common are tension headaches and migraines. Both can range from mild to severe, and can be experienced on one or both sides of the head; however there are some differences that can help determine which kind of headache you have.
Tension headaches are the most common and can make you feel like your head is tight or under pressure; they don’t usually get worse with exertion. The pain may be associated with tenderness of the muscles of the head, neck, and shoulders, and can last for a few hours, or even up to a week.
Migraines are usually described as a throbbing sensation, and physical exertion can make the pain worse. The throbbing is believed to be related to blood flow changes in the brain causing irritation and swelling of the blood vessels.
Unlike tension headaches, migraines can cause nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, smell, and sound. Migraines can be with or without aura; a migraine aura can be any of a collection of neurological symptoms such as numbness, speaking difficulties, vision changes, and tingling, which signal the onset of a migraine.
What causes headaches?
Tension or stress is more likely to cause a tension headache, but there are many triggers for migraines. Certain foods, smells, weather changes, hormones, and a lack of sleep can all cause them.
Diagnosis and treatment
There are no migraine-specific tests, but your Chiropractor may run tests to rule out other conditions. It can be helpful to monitor your headache activity by noting your diet, events, symptoms and medication, before and during your headache.
Determining the cause of your headaches or migraines may involve a process of elimination. Sometimes, it can be as simple as cutting out an ingredient from your diet. While there is no overall cure, doctors will often recommend medication or therapeutic intervention.
If you are suffering from severe, ongoing headaches, or are experiencing head pain with unusual symptoms and a high fever, see your Chiropractor. They can rule out underlying conditions before helping you to manage the pain.
Exercise, such as running, can help you keep fit and active, but what if it’s painful?
Running is a popular form of exercise for many people who want to keep fit, but it involves repetitive impact on the joints which can cause back pain, especially in the lower back. If you already suffer from lower back pain, running may make it worse, or lead to other types of pain, such as sciatica (leg pain, weakness and numbness).
One of the more common types of pain from running is a muscular strain, which can appear as a spasm or ache in your lower back. This type of pain doesn’t travel into the legs or buttocks. Resting, heat or cold therapy, and stretching are some self-care measures that may help relieve muscle strain. If the pain is not alleviated by these measures after two to three weeks, there may be a more serious problem.
Sometimes, back pain can be a sign of a spinal problem, such as degenerative disc disease (DDD), or a herniated disc. Your discs are your lower back’s ‘shock absorbers’; over time, running can cause a high level of stress on these, which can make existing or developing back problems worse. DDD occurs when the disc gradually loses that shock absorbing quality due to wear-and-tear, or injury. A herniated disc is one that has begun to bulge or rupture, which puts pressure on the surrounding nerves.
If you notice that you have ongoing lower back pain after a run, whether it’s muscular or structural, check with a health professional to help diagnose any problems and provide the correct treatment. Running injuries should be treated early before they worsen.
After diagnosis and treatment is in place, some preventative measures may help alleviate pain and discomfort in your legs and lower back:
• Warm up before a run
• Stretch your hamstrings
• Wear comfortable and supportive running shoes
• Avoid running on hard surfaces such as concrete
• Incorporate muscle toning, strength training and cross-training
See your chiropractor for advice and treatment on how to get you back on track and enjoying your run with minimal, or no pain.
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This colourful spice adds flavour and colour to your meals, but what else could turmeric do for you?
Turmeric has long been considered one of the most beneficial foods in the world, and now shows promising results from many high-quality studies on its health benefits. The roots of the turmeric plant are used fresh, or dried and ground into a powder; both forms have been used in Asia as a medicine and a spice for thousands of years.
One of the compounds that make turmeric so nutritious, and also gives it the orange- yellow colour, is curcumin. Curcumin boasts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, improves brain function, shows promise in cancer prevention, and much more.
Inflammation is an essential function that helps your body repair damage and fight bacteria. However extensive or chronic inflammation can cause serious health problems. It’s believed that chronic inflammation may contribute to some illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s.
Curcumin is powerful in fighting chronic inflammation. Studies show that it can match the effectiveness of some anti- inflammatory drugs.
Brain and heart health
Curcumin can increase the levels of growth hormone in your brain, helping your neurons form new connections. This shows promise for improved learning and memory, and in the prevention of depression.
Curcumin can play a part in heart health by improving the lining of the blood vessels which helps regulate blood pressure, clotting, and inflammation.
We often hear about antioxidants, but what exactly are they? Antioxidants are molecules in our bodies that fight damage caused by unstable molecules (known as free radicals). We need a balance of free radicals and antioxidants. When this balance is disrupted, our health can suffer.
Curcumin is an exceptionally powerful antioxidant that neutralises free radicals to slow down the aging process, and prevent disease.
Cancer treatment prospects
Intensive studies have shown that curcumin can help reduce the growth of malignant cells in some forms of cancer. Research is in its infancy, but the results are promising.
To reap the health benefits, it’s important to know that it’s not as easy as stocking up on the spice, or heading out for a turmeric latte. The curcumin content in turmeric is a mere three percent, and is also difficult for your body to absorb, so curcumin supplements may be the most effective approach.
Not all curcumin supplements are created equal though, and more evidence on the reported benefits is needed. Some contain other ingredients such as piperine (a compound in black pepper), which can help aid absorption by up to 2,000 percent. Consuming curcumin with a fatty meal could also help, as it is fat soluble.
There’s no denying that turmeric is a delicious and healthy addition to your diet, but too much can sometimes cause stomach irritation, so remember, everything in moderation. Talk to your Chiropractor about whether curcumin supplements would be suitable for you.
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If you suffer from pain in your lower back, hips, buttocks, and legs, could sacroiliitis be the cause?
Sacroiliitis is inflammation of the sacroiliac joint, which can affect one or both joints. The sacroiliac joints are at the lower part of your spine where it connects to your pelvic area near your hips.
In general the symptoms of sacroiliitis include pain in the lower back, hips, buttocks, legs, knees, and less commonly, feet. Sometimes that pain is accompanied by a mild fever. You may also notice the pain worsening after long periods of standing or putting more weight on one leg than the other, climbing stairs, and taking long strides when running or walking.
There is no single reason why people suffer from sacroiliitis, and it can affect anyone. However, it’s quite common in pregnant women because the body is preparing for a baby, and the hip and sacroiliac joints naturally loosen. Pregnancy can alter the way you walk and cause inflammation, which leads to the condition.
Aside from pregnancy, it can also be caused from gout, joint damage from a fall or accident, or an inflamed sacroiliac joint. Existing back and spine issues, osteoarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis (an inflammatory form of arthritis), can also cause sacroiliitis.
Sacroiliitis shares traits with many other lower back pain issues, so it’s advisable to consult your health professional for a correct diagnosis. Once you receive a definite diagnosis for the condition, your treatment type can be determined.
Your Chiropractor may also recommend measures to manage your symptoms such as correcting your posture, stretching to maintain joint flexibility, and strengthening exercises to make your muscles more stable.
Adam's Back is a team of dedicated complimentary health professionals. Our aim is to support you in finding drug-free solutions for better health.